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  • Dr. Peggy Regis Robinson, DAOM, L.Ac.

How I Find Calm in New York

While New York is a city that never sleeps, it’s also a place where I find delight in every corner. I know my body, spirit, and mind experience wear and tear when I’m always on the go, so I re-ground myself before stress creeps in.

How do I know when I’m about to get stressed?

The key to addressing stress is noticing signs before they happen. Breaths are shorter and shallower. My chest starts feels tighter and my shoulders are elevated. My muscles, jawline, and back are tense. And my mind wanders more frequently, and forgetfulness punctuates my tasks. These are signals indicating a need for pause.

Here are 9 ways I de-stress

  1. Breathe intentionally. I put my hand on my heart and I will sit for awhile and listen to my heartbeat. I breathe with my heartbeat. I imagine breathing in good thoughts and expanding my core like a balloon and I breathe out to deflate. I allow air to cleanse my core and let it out with the negative vibes. I follow the flow and release. I finish my breathing exercise by extending my arms and legs and wiggling my head and body. I shake out my hands to get rid of the excess negative energy.

  2. Listen to a calming song. I’ve been putting “One Day” by Matisyahu on loop. The message is beautiful and global—and we could all use that every day. The flow and beat instantly puts me on a relaxing mode because it’s got a nice reggae beat to it. Matisyahu is Hasidic Jew and sings uplifting tunes with the island vibes. It reminds me that culturally, we can love others while honoring ourselves. Plus, I listen to this with my family because the message and melody are intergenerational and catchy.

  3. Walk outside. Changing locations can dramatically shift our minds. The visual change signals our brain that there’s something outside of the thought or feeling we’ve been focused on. And while I can’t walk too far, our neighborhood has an abundance of gems to make the walk recharging. Brooklyn, New York is home to my favorite boutiques and brownstones. The people are friendly, and you’ll see folks out with kids and dogs. It feels comfortable. Communal. Picturesque. I can’t help but have a big smile and add an extra pep in my walk.

  4. Be in the moment. Putting my cell phone in my back pocket keeps me focused in the moment. I notice the details when I’m present. Remove distractions by clearing clutter.

  5. Journal. I write how I feel on my iPhone notes without filtering. This way, I can unload vulnerable thoughts and feelings and this release feels therapeutic. I may consider using a recorder next time because my thoughts tend to be deep but fast, and sometimes disappear before I catch them.

  6. Steep tea. Jasmine tea has calming notes and it’s the kind of tea that commands attention. The leaves are sensitive to heat and if I steep them longer than required, the tea gains a bitter finish. I use the three minutes as a mini getaway—focusing only on one task and being rewarded with delightful aromas.

  7. Quick facetime. My kids are fun and when they call, it’s more about what they say instead of what I ask. They ask me about my day and how I’m doing. I get text message with hearts and emojis. They ask me when I’m coming home. Those are all very nurturing. Their smiles beam through facetime and they’re good for my soul. The travel gets easier with their love.

  8. Aromatherapy. Bringing 2-3 of my favorite scents is like storing vacations in a bottle. Lately, I’ve been leaning towards dōTERRA’s On Guard for my immune system. It has wild orange peel, clove bud, cinnamon leaf and bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary flower. I also love dōTERRA Helichrysum because of its rejuvenating benefits for the skin. My kids are swimmers and this oil is great for their post-water wellness. Sage is always popular. Different oils speak at different times.

  9. Heal my mind, body, and spirit with massage and acupuncture. Of course, I make room for massage and acupuncture as part of my wellness routine. Restarting my body and removing tense energy will help me keep going in the long term while feeling immediate benefits.

Bonus tip to de-stress: The repetition that comes with rituals helps me find my rhythm. I wake up with a prayer and a “verse of the day” from my bible app. I meditate on the words and encourage them to fill my body by stretching. This small exercise makes sure I start my day on a path of calm.

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